Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NASCAR: Carl Edwards only has two real options for 2012 – Roush-Fenway Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing.

As the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season continues to roll on, one rumor that been gaining steam over the last few weeks has been, who is Carl Edwards going to driving for in 2012?

Every year in NASCAR, we see these same rumors fly, its called silly season and basically, its where will a driver end up driving in the next season.

In 2007, it was Dale Earnhardt Jr., which ended at Hendrick Motorsports, in 2008, it was Tony Stewart on the move to his own team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

Even more, in 2009, it was Jamie McMurray which ended up at EGR and of course last year (2010), it was Kasey Kahne that right now is at Red Bull Racing, but signed a deal with Hendrick Motorsports for the #5 ride in 2012.

Personally that Kahne deal still gives me a funny feeling especially with Red Bull Racing involved, but that’s for another day.

Anyway, for Carl Edwards, he is a top driver in NASCAR right now and where he ends up in 2012 and beyond is crucial for whether or not he will be a contender for not only victories on a weekly basis, but a contend for a Cup Series Championship. Of course he like many will have to go through “5 time” Jimmie Johnson.

But as contract talks continue with Carl Edwards, the rumors as well have begun to fly and as like many in NASCAR, I have an opinion too.

Basically the way I see it, even with NASCAR having several top tier teams that might meet Carl Edward’s needs including Penske Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Red Bull Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing. But I don’t see it like that, Stewart-Haas Racing is in no position to add a third car, EGR is good with a two-car team, MWR, I believe is right at two-cars and so is Red Bull Racing.

So that leaves basically two top tier teams and that would be Roush-Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. First, JGR, right now JGR is the top Toyota team and while they are having a few engine issues, they are good week in and week out for contending for wins and contend every year to win championships, so Edwards would be a good fit their, especially with his partner(s) in crime Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

Second, which brings me to his current race team Roush-Fenway Racing. RFR is a good top tier team and is a good of place as any to win races and championships especially with Ford behind him.

So really Carl Edwards in my eyes only has two choices, stay at RFR or leave and join Joe Gibbs Racing.

Here’s my prediction: As much as JGR is a good team especially with Toyota behind them, Carl Edwards would be risking a lot to leave Roush-Fenway Racing. Right now in 2011, he is contending on a weekly basis for victories again and I see Edwards making the chase and contending for the championship. I just don’t think he can find a better ride in this market.

BUT, there are two key pieces here that would change where Edwards races in 2012, one will RFR give Edwards the money he is looking for? And two, is there sponsorship for Edwards in 2012 and beyond? If one or both these question have a no, then JGR is next up, but if there’re both YES, then he stays at RFR, unless he wants to leave…But again I see RFR in 2012 anyway…

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

- Brian Vermette
RaceDriven.com and now at BVinsight.com